Questions and Facts About the Amish - from an ex-Amish
This is an article full of questions and answers about the Amish. So, if you have questions about the Amish, read on, and hopefully, you'll get some answers today.
The world seems to have a lot of questions about the Amish because they stand out as different, living their lives silently, almost mysteriously. As the world views them from a distance, they wonder why these people are so strange and what they are like.
For this article, I have gathered a few of the common questions and will try to address them to the best of my ability.
I grew up Amish, so I should know at least a little about the Amish. Although there is a huge difference in many of their communities, therefore the answers will likely not hold true for all of them. But I believe my answers would be pretty typical of most Amish.
Question 1: Is Amish a religion?
What is religion? Religion is the belief in and worship of superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
The Amish believe in God (the Creator, the true God). They believe in Jesus as God's Son who came to die for our sins and rose again from the dead. He is alive today!
They have that part right. And I believe that some Amish are saved and will make it to heaven. But the sad thing is that many of them are very religious and not actually born again/saved. I addressed this in another post "Do the Amish Believe in Jesus?"
There have been quite a number of Amish that have gotten truly saved over the years. But they will usually leave or even be asked to leave and will be shunned.
The Old Order Amish do not want their members to study the Bible because they know that many of them will start to question things in the church if they know God's Word.
Their focus is on doing good works and hoping you make it to heaven. Most of them have no relationship with Jesus.
I will add though, that you will notice if you read my post "New Order Amish versus Old Order" and "Who are the Amish?" that not all Amish teach the same doctrines. The Old Order teaches salvation by works, the New Order teaches salvation by Grace through Faith. And I would dare to say that the majority in the New Order church are saved.
So, the answer to the question "Is Amish a religion?" Yes, it is a religion. It is an oppressive religion that makes one feel like they have to do all these things to please God.
Why are the Amish so Peculiar?
In the KJV Bible, 1 Peter 2:9 and Titus 2:14 talk about God's children being peculiar people. 2 Corinthians 6:17 in the KJV says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate." And I'm sure more verses address this subject.
So, the Amish believe that according to God's Word, His people need to be completely different from the world in every aspect: dress, actions, words, etc.
The interesting thing is that so many people read the same Bible and take it to mean something completely different. The difference is in how you interpret it, and what you think it means. And that is why it is so important to study the Bible properly and have the Holy Spirit to help reveal it to you. Take the whole Bible together, look at it in context, take into consideration the fact that we live in a different culture, etc.
The Bible is God's Word, there is no error in His Word. But there are many errors in how men interpret it.
The Amish tend to take certain Scriptures and make a doctrine out of it, even when the passage is not very clear in what He's talking about. The head covering is one of those doctrines. If you wonder why the women wear the head coverings, it's because of the passage in 1 Corinthians 11.
So the Amish believe that to please God and make it to heaven, they have to keep every single commandment in the Bible. But the thing is, no human can keep all the commandments. That's why Christ died on the cross for us.
Is it True That the Amish Do Not Go to War?
Yes, it is true. The Amish believe in non-resistance. Jesus gave some teaching on this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7). Matthew 5:39 "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also".
The Amish will never go to war. At age eighteen, the young men will sign a conscientious objector form. Meaning they object to going to war because of their conscience.
In the past wars, some of them have served in hospitals, etc. But they will never bear arms.
Do the Amish vote?
Some of the Amish vote, some do not. They believe in the separation of church and state and believe that they should not get involved in the affairs of this world. The New Order Amish do not vote, so we never did. But many of the Old Order (in the Lancaster, PA area) do vote.
Election time is over their wedding season, and I know that sometimes a group of men would hire a taxi to take them to the voting booth. I'm not sure if the women vote though. I only heard of the men going to vote.
Do the Amish pay taxes?
Yes, the Amish pay their taxes. Many of them, however, are social security exempt. So they do not pay social security taxes. The government has given them the right to sign a form for exemption because the Amish will never draw social security.
The Amish do not believe in accepting help from the government. They will never go on welfare, receive food stamps, or ask for any such help.
They believe that they need to work hard and take care of themselves. And if someone in their community is struggling or needs help, they take care of their own.
Does anyone ever join the Amish? Can I join the Amish?
Some people have tried to join the Amish before. I personally never saw anyone from the outside become a member, but I know it has happened.
You can join the Amish, but it is difficult to join them for many reasons.
The language barrier is one reason. The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch. It is a dialect that includes a mixture of Dutch, German, and English. They use the German and English Bible. In church, the preachers use a mixture of German and Pennsylvania Dutch. So an outsider wouldn't understand anything. (click here for a little intro to Pennsylvania Dutch)
Another reason is that the Amish are not very accepting of anyone that is different. And it would take them a very long time to trust you.
A young person would probably have a very hard time getting married in that circle because no one would want their child to get married to someone with English blood.
They will not accept anyone who is divorced and remarried. We had a family that was coming to our church for a while, and they wanted to join. But they were divorced and remarried, and our preachers told them that they had to separate if they wanted to become members. They had been together for a long time, and the kids were both of theirs, so of course, they didn't want to separate.
So, I'm not sure if an outsider would ever truly feel accepted as one of them. I've never heard of an Old Order couple adopting children, but I know some New Orders have adopted children. And sadly, they often seem to have a hard time fitting in, because of how the Amish view anyone with English blood.
Do the Amish Use Modern Medicine?
The answer to this question is yes, the Amish do use modern medicine.
The Amish are not quick to run to the doctor. They do not have health insurance, and it is very expensive to go to the doctor. So they tend to use natural or even homemade remedies whenever possible.
One of my brothers was diagnosed with MS. It is a dreadful disease that slowly weakens you and leaves you helpless. My parents tried everything. Modern medicine did not have much to offer. So my parents turned to natural remedies. We did get into some practices that could be a little questionable, but it was because they were desperate.
The Amish tend to be a little gullible when it comes to natural remedies and quack doctors because they want a cheaper and safer alternative to modern medicine. They are looking for help from any doctor who claims he has a remedy.
My parents both passed away from cancer. They spent thousands of dollars on doctor bills, chemo, etc. They also tried every natural remedy they knew of, and all of it left them with a big debt.
The only kind of health insurance the Amish have is their church. They help each other. I think our church pulled together to pay half of all the hospital bills.
So the Amish will often try natural remedies first, but if necessary, they will also use modern medicine.
Why do Amish Remove Girl's Teeth?
This was a common question I found that shocked me. I never heard of this before. And I don't know where this idea came from. I even found a popular post on the web talking about the Amish having their teeth pulled for no reason.
I'm not sure why some people find the need to write articles about the Amish if they do not know the truth. And just because one person does something, it does not mean that this is typical of the Amish.
The Amish do not have teeth removed for no reason. They brush their teeth. They go to the dentist just like other people do and get their teeth filled if they have a cavity. If they have a tooth removed, it's usually because it is too far gone, and it would cost a lot of money to fix it.
They will not spend a lot of money on their teeth for the sake of beauty. Because that is being vain and prideful. But they still want their teeth for chewing.
My mom had all false teeth. She had hers cut out at a pretty young age because her teeth were bad. But I think years ago doctors were quicker to give people false teeth instead of working hard to save them.
And my dad was one of those that was too stubborn to go to the dentist and he had some teeth break off. But that's not just because he was Amish. If you live among the rednecks like we do, here in Missouri, you see lots of people with awful-looking teeth. They don't care about their appearance and don't have money to spend on teeth.
So, when it comes to taking care of their teeth, I don't believe that the Amish are any different from the general population.
Do the Amish Wear Wedding Rings?
No, the Amish do not wear wedding rings. They do not wear jewelry of any kind. It is too fancy and being fancy can cause you to have pride.
In the KJV Bible, I Peter 3:3-4 says, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
The Amish take verses such as these and believe that they are not to wear jewelry or makeup of any kind.
Someone asked the question, "Then how do you know if they are married or not if they don't wear rings?"
The truth is, you will not really know if they are married or not unless you know them. The men will start growing a beard after they get married. But in some groups, the young men also wear beards before they are married. So that is not a sure sign.
Do the Amish Reject All Modern Technology?
I think the answer to this question would be "yes and no". The Amish know that to preserve their way of life they cannot allow too much modern technology into their circles. But I believe it is getting harder for them to keep it out.
There are a few small groups of New Order Amish that allow electricity. The rest of them have always been able to come up with alternative sources of power for their businesses, etc.
But so much of our business world today depends on phones and the internet to survive.
For years already, the Amish have had little phone shacks that they shared. Usually, it's at a neighbor's farm or somewhere within walking distance. However, in recent years, some of them have been getting flip cell phones as well.
I have not personally heard of any Amish allowing smartphones. That would pose a whole new problem, because if you have a smartphone you may as well have internet. And I know they don't want internet availability, although some of them use computers for their business.
Amish Can Use Their Neighbor's Technology
Some of the Amish use computers for their businesses. They just have to find a neighbor or friend that will help them with this.
Recently my husband started a manufacturing and machining business, then found out later that a local Amish man also has a machining business. The Amish man came to see my husband's shop and asked if he'd be willing to help him out with his computer needs. He was trying to get some business online but had no computer, so he needed someone to get his orders, print out his emails, etc.
They work their way around having their own technology and just pay others to do this kind of work for them.
There are a lot of Amish guys who have businesses where they need vehicles, so they will buy a vehicle and hire someone else to drive it for them. They are allowed to have vehicles, just not a driver's license.
So the Amish do use some technology, they just cannot have it in their home.
- Edited to add: I have been informed that many Amish are now using smartphones as well, especially business owners. I'm not sure how they plan to handle this, or how much it could affect their community?? Because a smartphone gives them the world at their fingertips. I guess it remains to be seen in future years.
Do the Amish Drink Alcohol?
Some of the Amish drink alcohol, and some do not. In our New Order church, alcohol was strictly forbidden. And no one in our church ever drank alcohol that I'm aware of.
In the Old Order churches, some of the young people drink a lot during their Rumspringa years. But once they join the church, they usually quit drinking.
The very strict Amish, however, do consume more alcohol. It's strange, isn't it? They are so strict, but they are allowed to drink alcohol. I have seen many strict Amish men in the grocery store with cases of beer in their shopping cart. I have no idea why they allow it. But I have noticed that the stricter the Amish are, the more darkness is in their community.
More Questions About the Amish
I know that there are many more questions about the Amish that I could address. These were just a few of the common ones, and I have other articles addressing some more questions about the Amish.
If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
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